Laugh, and the world laughs with you ;
    Weep, and you weep alone,
For this brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
    It has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer ;
    Sigh, it is lost on the air ;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
    But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you ;
    Grieve, and they turn and go ;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
    But do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many ;
    Be sad, and you lose them all ;
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
    But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded ;
    Fast, and the world goes by ;
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
    But no man can help you to die.

Theres room in the halls of pleasure
    For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
    Through the narrow aisles of pain.

                        MRS. ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin 6 Aug. 1885: 5.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

Back to Poem Index